WITNESS

BY SUZANNE MARINE

He remembered what she looked like in the snow storm. He remembered a hush with low whispers. An inky black night looming overhead. All the random falling. Tiny, disintegrating crystals powdering her golden hair, lilting on her round nose. How it was the sparest of moments, right before they arrived.

He saw a young child from afar, as tall as the gate. Noticed her miniature features, the soft newness of her skin. Playful eyes that clouded over with a faraway look, as if briefly connecting to the time before. Her limbs dangled free of any training. He remembered running as fast as he could when he was younger, his muscles pulsing in unison with instinct. Hot sun streaking his back, burnt grass brushing his legs. A squeal of delight when nabbing the end.

He saw the child shrivel and shrink after her father yelled and hit her head. The harsh arm yank, sneering tone, I told you, you little shit. A hefty, weighted hand around her slender throat to insinuate what could happen, a dominance. And her, all gone, he saw it in her eyes. He remembered all the times he was whipped whenever he didn’t obey. A dark tunnel of loneliness as he heard the outside world pass by. And then submission, his joy and intuition stamped down. An eclipse over his sun.

A crowd of people joined them, and he saw the father bend down and wipe her tears, pretend he cared just for show. You never know why they do what they do. They left with the crowd when it moved on. He thought of the times he’s woken in a daze, not knowing where he was, feeling the drugs ebb away. How life takes you to places and situations you have no control over. How he’s had to accept that bitter pill. Once, a swarm of people overtook him, combed his body for anything of value. Their inane mutterings. One of them had said, this is what we need.

He missed her, the one from the memory of snow. The long lines of her body, how she stretched out before falling asleep. He liked knowing she was with him, his one pride. And her scent on everything she touched, though that has faded since she left. She was a witness. A vessel for his sorrow.

He thought of the gods, spirits, and universe as he paced back and forth. The god called memory never let him forget what happened before and what happened now. There was no god called explanation that explained why. The god called hope hid itself, sometimes lighting up for a fleeting second. And then there was the god of this place and its people. They told him he was there, prisoner, for the survival of his species, his own good.

He stopped, wanted to own something, to be heard. And he roared ferociously, eyes closed, mane fluttering in the breeze, as if he were wild, as if he were free.

 

© 2017, Suzanne Marine. All rights reserved.